Vanderbilt soccer has five alumni drafted or signed by a NWSL team. A Commodore has been selected in each of the past three NWSL Drafts. Myra Konte was picked 30th in 2021 and Maddie Elwell was taken 15th in 2022. Haley Hopkins and Ella Shamburger were selected in the 2023 draft.
Simone Charley was a standout two-sport athlete at Vanderbilt from 2013-17. A four-time All-SEC selection on the soccer pitch, Charley was also a three-time All-American on the track & field team. She went unselected in the 2018 NWSL Draft but landed a spot on the Portland Thorns FC practice squad. Her hard work paid off with a professional contract with Portland in 2019 where she earned regular playing time over two seasons before being traded to Angel City FC in December 2021. Charley made 20 appearances with 10 starts for Angel City in 2022.
One of the many reasons I am very grateful for my time at Vanderbilt is because of how well it prepared me for my professional soccer career. The purposeful character development, insightful tactical guidance, and sincere ongoing support are just a few of the ways that Vanderbilt has helped me not only get to the professional level but support me throughout it. I am forever grateful to be a Commodore!
Myra Konte became Vanderbilt’s first NWSL draftee when her named was called 30th overall in the 2021 draft. Konte was an anchor on Vanderbilt’s defense during her time in Music City. She helped lead the Commodores to the 2020 SEC title, earning tournament MVP honors in the process. She also earned all-region honors following her senior season and as a freshman was named All-SEC in 2017.
Maddie Elwell enjoyed an impressive five-year career for the Black & Gold before being drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft by the Washington Spirit. Elwell scored 12 goals and assisted on another 29 for the Commodores in her five seasons in Nashville. Elwell also earned Second Team All-SEC honors in each of her final three seasons at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt helped me grow not only as a soccer player, but as a teammate and person as well. I was able to learn so much about what it takes to build and be a part of a successful team which in turn helped translate on the field. One of the biggest takeaways I had from Vandy soccer was the idea of “leaving your feet”; The idea of going into everything with 110%, and making that final tackle. Being able to use that mindset has allowed me to find success on and off the field. I’m super excited and honored to represent Vanderbilt soccer at the professional level.
Haley Hopkins was the No. 11 overall in the 2023 NWSL Draft, going to the North Carolina Courage. Hopkins played four seasons at Vandy before finishing her collegiate career with two seasons at Virginia. While a Commodore, Hopkins was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-SEC and All-Southeast Region selection.
I can whole heartedly say that my time at Vanderbilt was a once in a lifetime experience because of everything this university had to offer. I look back with great pride that I was a member of historic Vanderbilt soccer teams and contributed to years of both conference and tournament championships. My on-field accolades are minuscule in comparison to the collective experience. Darren and Ken taught and instilled in me what it means to be a competitor. Playing at the highest level requires a multitude of skills and tools, but that fire and desire to win creates the dividing line between those who make it and those who don’t. I consider myself so fortunate and proud to say I wore the Star V and represented Vanderbilt soccer. I’ve realized it’s rare for a player to reflect on their time in college athletics and share a similar experience. I’m forever indebted to the school, coaches, my teammates, and people who contributed the best four years of my life.
Ella Shamburger was selected by the Kansas City Current in the fourth round of the 2023 NWSL Draft. The Atlanta, Georgia, native was a staple on Vanderbilt’s defense for five seasons en route to becoming one of the most decorated and experienced student-athletes in program history. She is the first four-time all-region recipient at Vanderbilt and totaled 97 starts and nearly 9,000 minutes on the pitch.
She contributed to 40 career clean sheets and scored five goals with seven assists. Vanderbilt went to four NCAA Tournaments and were 2020 SEC Tournament champions during Shamburger’s time at Vandy. Shamburger earned All-SEC recognition for the third time in her fifth and final season in 2022 while leading the Commodores to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt has taught me what it means to be a leader on the field and an even better person off the field. I am beyond grateful for the lessons and life skills my coaches and teammates have taught me throughout my career. Vanderbilt and the Vandy soccer program has provided me the opportunities of a lifetime and prepared me well for the chapters that lie ahead. It will be hard to leave this wonderful place, but I know it will always be a very special part of my life.